What is computer security? Everything You Need To Know

Table of contents
What is computer security? 
Computer Security Levels Explained
 Why is computer security so important in today’s world?
Types of computer security threats
Why would a hacker target an at-home user home business?
Benefits of computer security software
Best practices for cyberattacks prevention and recovery
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office
formerly Acronis True Image
Other languages available: Deutsch

Most people today know they need to protect their computers from viruses, but they are unaware of other potential threats to their data that can be costly in terms of time and money. Home users and home businesses may think that cybersecurity is only a problem for big companies, but nothing could be further from the truth. Cyberattacks can affect anyone for any number of reasons, so it’s important to understand the different types of threats and how to protect your computer. Fortunately, there are remedies for all these common computer security threats. There are a number of solutions available to protect your data, identity, and websites, including PC and Mac backup software, security software, and data protection services.

What is computer security? 

Computer security is the activity of preventing unwanted access, theft, damage, and interruption to computer systems, networks, and data. In order to keep computers and the systems they are connected to secure and robust against cyber threats and vulnerabilities, it covers a variety of methods and protocols aimed to safeguard the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of digital information.

Computer Security Levels Explained

Protecting data

Obviously, keeping data safe is important. Even when you have nothing to hide, you do have things you don’t want to lose. Whether it’s personal photographs, work files, passwords, or records of information, the materials on your computer are precious at least to you. A common attack that has been gaining traction over the past few years is ransomware, where hackers lock a personal or business computer and hold the data ransom until they are paid a bounty (usually in Bitcoin to an anonymous address) to release the data. Having backups of the computer in a separate location or in the cloud is one way to protect yourself from this type of attack.

If you have a home office, protecting personal data is even more important. The files on your computer can have monetary value to you or store information that you may need in the future. Furthermore, your customers and vendors may have requirements for handling data that apply to their partners and suppliers. If you’ve ever signed a confidentiality agreement with a client, it typically has a clause that stipulates that you need to keep their data secure.

Protecting your identity

Identity theft occurs when a hacker gets enough information to impersonate you online. This can be a serious threat if someone can fake your identity to gain access to your financial records, documents such as a driver’s license, logins to shopping sites, etc. Identity theft can involve stealing people’s data and taking out loans in their name. Such attacks have even been perpetrated using social security numbers belonging to minors.

Protecting your computer is one part of the story. There are also services that protect you by notifying you if they identify your personal information on suspicious sites. Today, some banks and credit cards offer this service for free to protect their customers.

Protecting your website

Just about everyone has a website these days. Perhaps you run a small business, display your art projects, or have a child who runs their own website. Websites can be subject to various attacks including spam and code corruption, so computer security and backups are advisable for both PCs and Macs. The best way to handle the potential for attacks is to speak to the web hosting company and find out what kind of security package is included in your hosting plan and whether it includes backups. Depending on the type of website you have, you may want to consider security software upgrades.

Protect your valuable data with computer security

 Why is computer security so important in today’s world?

With so much of your professional and personal life being conducted through the computer, personal computer security is essential, just like locking the door to your house or car. Following are some of the primary reasons to keep your computer safe.

1. Ensure your personal and financial data is protected to stop identity theft

Personal and financial data can include medical records, investment information, bank accounts, credit cards, government identification documentation, etc. People often don’t think twice about having a photograph of their information on the computer, sharing their telephone number, or sending an email to someone with credit card information. Yet these types of activities can open the door to identity theft.

To take advantage of people’s personal and financial information, today’s hackers use software that looks for vulnerabilities with those who have not properly protected their records. With information such as name, address, and a few answers to your security questions, a hacker may be able to get on the phone with a service agent at a bank or telecom and gain access to your accounts.

2. Protect the personal information of your friends, family, and colleagues

Computers don’t just store your information: They store information about your friends and colleagues too. Whether it’s group photographs, telephone numbers, addresses, names of employers, or other personal information, when a hacker gains access to your computer, it’s not just your own data that is being compromised.

If you work from home or have a freelance business, your computer data may also include information that belongs to the company you work for. While it’s unlikely that you will be subject to a directed corporate attack on your home computer, there are multiple ways malicious actors can use login information or personal data to gain access to other computer systems through yours.

Check our article about: The best practices of personal data protection

3. Ensure computer performance and uptime

Sometimes malware doesn’t steal anything other than your computer’s resources. Watch out for free software that you or family members install on the computer. Something like a free photo editor can come with adware that is just an annoyance, or it can come with code that uses your computer’s power or hard drive for illicit activities. Make sure to get software only from reliable companies and websites. Having malware on your computer can slow down the computer and potentially expose you to other types of risks.

4. Eliminate data loss

Even without the threat of ransomware, viruses, and outside attackers, computers can malfunction, so the loss of data is a real concern. Keeping a backup of your files or using backup software can prevent data loss that can happen from something as simple as aging hardware or spilling coffee on your laptop.

Types of computer security threats

When considering different kinds of computer security, it’s important to understand the terms used for these different types of threats:

Endpoint or computer security refers to the security of the device. Endpoint is more general and could mean a mobile phone, tablet, or other device.

Information security ensures that the information is safe and can’t be accessed, edited, or tampered with by anyone other than the authorized users.

Internet security or cybersecurity protects a computer from external threats based on connectivity.

Network security is more common in companies, where computers are connected together in a network. This could also refer to the connection to a Wi-Fi network.

Application security refers to the security of your applications’ code, in other words, whether the coders did a good job of creating secure software. If you are buying computer software from reliable vendors, this isn’t a concern, but if you or a family member is downloading free or bootlegged software or games, you may be exposing yourself to security risks that reside within the software itself.

Why would a hacker target an at-home user home business?

If you’re a home user or sole business owner, you might be wondering why hackers would even bother to try to hack your computer. After all, there are big companies out there that are much more lucrative targets. First, today, there is automated software that simply scans any unprotected computer it finds connected to the internet, looking for vulnerabilities. Such software doesn’t discriminate, and it doesn’t take much time or effort to deploy. Second, your data is worth more than you think.

Here are some examples:

Hijacking computers for other uses: In some cases of illicit peer-to-peer activity, such as storing bootlegged videos, finding victim computers is a way for criminals to escape detection. Malware creates secret files on the victim’s computer that can then be used to relay this data to people who illegally download the materials.

Identity hacking: Stealing someone’s identity can give access to bank accounts, shopping sites, credit cards, and even the ability to take out loans in someone else’s name.

Private email lists: Emails lists can garner income for hackers who sell them to spammers.

Personal information: Personal data (e.g., banking information or health information) can be used for identity hacking and for gathering other types of information about people or groups.

Passwords as backdoor access: Sophisticated trackers can use a regular account to find backdoors in company accounts. If you have access to company accounts or any types of privileges, it is possible that a hacker could use your password to get into the company systems.

Ransomware: In this type of attack, a hacker locks all of the data on your computer and then asks you to pay ransom for your own data. Most people would pay hundreds of dollars, if not more, to recover the data on their computer if they were locked out.

Benefits of computer security software

One of the best ways to protect your home computer is through cybersecurity software. Although some of this functionality, such as backup software and antivirus, is built into your PC or Mac operating system, third-party software can offer an extra layer of protection including:

Continuous privacy protection: Security software can protect you from attacks by identifying known and unknown threats, encrypting your private data, and keeping backups of personal data such as health and banking information, passwords, and contact lists.

Day-to-day computer and client protection: Many computer security software solutions feature regular, automatic backups — as often as every hour. This ensures no loss of data, no matter what goes wrong. The protection extends to your work and client data, protecting both you and anyone else who shares files with you.

Protection from data loss due to malware: With computer backup software that provides a backup to the cloud and to an external device, your data is stored somewhere safe and can be restored, even if a ransomware attack locks the computer itself.

Peace of mind: An added layer of security provides you peace of mind that you are protected from malware, hackers, and hardware malfunctions.

Protect your banking and personal information with a computer security solution

Best practices for cyberattacks prevention and recovery

Computers come with some built-in protection and recovery capabilities. This combined with additional security software and personal security practices will help to keep your computer and data safe. Furthermore, having backup software can ensure that if anything does go wrong, you’ll be able to recover all of your data quickly and be back up and running fast.

Following are some best practices home computer users and freelance business computer users should keep in mind.

1. Educate yourself on cyberattacks to prevent social engineering

Many cyberattacks are a result of weak passwords (e.g., date of birth). In a phishing attack, someone sends an email or text with a link that downloads malicious code onto your computer. These attacks can be quite sophisticated, and even incorporate social engineering where someone calls to extract information from you, pretending to be a customer service representative from a bank or other service you use.

To prevent such attacks, don’t give out personal information and don’t click on links or download files from unknown sources.

2. Dedicated computer security software

Dedicated computer security software can protect your computer in a number of ways. Antivirus software protects from malware and other types of attacks. Backup software allows you to recover files and setups in case anything happens — including if anything happens to your hard drive or the computer itself. While some of these functionalities are built in, dedicated backup and restore software can save you significant time and money, and restore your entire setup — including when a ransomware attack happens.

3. Follow the 3-2-1 backup rule

Speaking of software updates, if you are using backup software, make sure to adhere to the 3-2-1 backup rule: three copies of the files, two types of media, and one cloud storage option. You should have three copies of your data – one production copy and two backup – stored on two different types of media (internal drive, external drive, or cloud), and maintain one copy offsite or in the cloud. This will ensure you’re protected no matter what happens.

4. Install all software patches ASAP using an auto-updater

Make sure to have your computer auto-update features turned on and update all software regularly. When resetting or turning off your computer, the software updater should inform you of the updates and automatically install them upon shutdown.

5. Guard your privacy

The following steps will help you keep your computer secure and protect your privacy:

  • Use multi-factor or two-factor authentication for all important logins (e.g., financial services, your primary email service, accounting software, etc.). Multi-factor authentication means that in cases where someone succeeds in stealing your password, they won’t be able to log in without having your authentication device (phone or dongle).
  • Use strong passwords and a password manager. Use different passwords for every website and login. Secure password managers can help you generate strong passwords and protect them.
  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Your internet provider can track your location and activity. The websites you visit online can detect your location. VPN software protects you by masking your location and activity.
  • Keep your Wi-Fi secure. While your home or office Wi-Fi is your own private network, when using a network at a coffee shop, hotel, or other public location, hackers can also be logged on or use software to track activity on those networks. Do not conduct any private activity, such as logging into personal accounts or keying in credit cards, on public networks. If necessary, you can tether your phone and use your private network instead of exposing yourself to the public Wi-Fi.

6. Use Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office (formerly Acronis True Image) offers everything you need to safeguard your Windows 10 / Windows 11 PC and Mac from all of today’s threats — from disk failures to ransomware attacks. Thanks to its unique integration of backup and cybersecurity in one, it saves you time and reduces the cost, complexity, and risk of managing multiple solutions.

Get Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office today!

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About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.